QUICK START COMPOSITION IDEAS

Have you ever experienced writer's (composer's) block? Or, maybe you've always wanted to start composing your own music but need some inspiration and guidance. Abundant Silence composers are here to help! 

Check out these quick start composition ideas to get started on your next musical work today!

Teaching Artist - Martha Hill Duncan.jpg

MARTHA HILL DUNCAN

Tatev Amiryan.jpg

TATEV AMIRYAN

 

QUICK START COMPOSITION
IDEAS USING NUMBERS

Click on the buttons next to each number category to download notated ideas that Martha composed just for you to help you get started! Use the blank notation to continue the idea or copy the notation straight into your favorite notation program. Feel free to change the ideas, expand, rearrange, adapt, morph, play, etc.

 

These quick starts are appropriate for all levels, but are especially helpful for beginning and intermediate pianist composers.

THREES OR MULTIPLES (6, 9, 12)

Pick 3 notes either far apart or close together, solid or broken and turn into harmony (chords)
3/4 time, 3/8, 6/8 time


Use multiple intervals of a 3rd as the basis of more exotic harmonies


Use 3 notes as melody, extending as you wish

FOURS

Pick 4 notes – lots of potential for major, minor and 7th chords and unique harmonies 4/8, 4/4 time


Pick 4 to begin a melody or create a skeleton of 4 notes to fill in


Quartal harmony – stacks of 4 ths

FIVES

Pick 5 notes as actual melody or harmonic ostinato with melody overtop
​5/8, 5/4 time


Patterns with 5 fingers, contrary motion, experiment with different patterns and sounds


Open 5ths for a majestic open-ended creation

MORE INSPIRING IDEAS


Commit to one day per week to work on your composition and watch it grow and develop over time!


Call a friend! Share your challenges and creations with a composer friend or teacher.


Freely play on your instrument to find unique sounds and rhythms.


Add words to your melody! Try it fast, try it slow.


Take a break…have some popcorn!

 

Find listening time to explore new or favorite composers

 

QUICK START COMPOSITION
IDEAS USING THEMES

Click on the buttons next to each number category to download notated ideas that Tatev composed just for you to help you get started! Use the blank notation to continue the idea or copy the notation straight into your favorite notation program. Feel free to change the ideas, expand, rearrange, adapt, morph, play, etc.

 

These quick starts are appropriate for all levels, but are especially helpful for beginning and intermediate pianist composers.

MELODIC THEME

(A theme based on melodic patterns)

The theme can be accompanied with chords/intervals, broken chords, or contrapuntal imitative voice part.

To develop the theme you can alter it by starting it from different note, featuring it with different rhythmic patterns, in different time signature, or in different register. 

RYTHMIC THEME

(A theme based on rhythmic patterns)​

The theme can be accompanied with chords/intervals, broken chords, or with another rhythmic theme.

To develop the theme you can alter it by starting it from different note, featuring it with different melodic patterns, in different time signature, or in different register.

HARMONIC THEME

(A theme based on chord progression)

The theme can be based on melodic or rhythmic patterns. 

To develop the theme you can alter it by starting it from different note, featuring it with different rhythmic or melodic patterns, in different time signature, or in different register.

ADDITIONAL COMPOSING TIPS

 

​For this particular tutorial, we are focused on piano, but could still encourage students to add other instruments or voice in order to experiment with textures.

 

Before you start to compose, think about the range of the piano, and the different techniques and performance effects that are possible on the piano.

 

Listen to pieces of similar instrumentation by different composers. Choose stylistically and structurally diverse pieces in order to learn different approaches and gain various new ideas for your piece.

 

Have a tentative plan of the piece before you proceed to work (determine the approximate length, tempo, the musical language, the style, the form/structure, range, etc.).

 

Improvise. It will help you come up with a more precise and refined image of what you want to write down and will shorten the writing process. Improvisation is also a great way to develop new ideas, expand on existing ideas, or help you get out of a spot where you are feeling stuck. Or, build in an improvisatory section into your composition!

 

Think more during the composing process; every little detail in the piece needs to be well thought and carefully chosen in order to have a refined and well crafted composition. Also, focusing on the details will help ensure that performances of your work are accurate and a true reflection of your intention.

 

Keep the composing process consistent. A consistent composing practice will yield the best progress, whether that's 10 minutes a day if you are just starting out, or 2 hours a day if you are an advanced composer working on a big project.

 

Take a break in between composing sessions. That will help you refresh your mind and see and evaluate the newly written section from a more fresh perspective. 

 

Listen to the piece (or the completed section) without the score sometimes. That will help you evaluate your work as a listener/audience and see the clear picture of the composition.

 

Choose a timeline for writing the piece, and give yourself a tentative deadline in order to make your work more organized and consistent and keep yourself motivated. And a great deadline could be entering your new work into the next Festival for Creative Pianists! ☺